Published Tuesday 23 February 2021 at 11:37
Nearly a hundred and fifty families in Blackburn with Darwen (BwD) have downloaded new activity apps since the lockdown started last year. The pandemic has caused a cycling and walking uptake spike since the first lockdown last March, not only in BwD, but across the country.
The free activity apps, East Lancs Cycling and Explore BwD, are proving popular particularly with beginners (34 per cent) and those who consider themselves at an intermediate level (57 per cent). The local easy-to-use apps aren’t the only tech proving popular with residents, with Strava users showing impressive increases to local activity rates too.
For community activity post-lockdown, things can only get better. Getting active with a health condition doesn’t mean you have to stretch yourself. It’s enough to do what you can, when you can, like going on short walks.
BwD’s Executive Member for Wellbeing, Cllr Damian Talbot said:
“The Council healthy weight declaration means we are serious about improving activity and public health. Being fit and active helps you fight diseases including Covid-19. These free apps are like a personal trainer in your pocket, motivating you on days when your get up and go seems to have got up and gone… It’s fantastic to see so many families making the most of this technology to get active.”
Looking at the local East Lancs Cycling app data, beginners show more weekly activity, probably because they are trying out new routes, distances, or routines. This group includes people returning to some element of physical fitness, and perhaps getting active with their families.
The most popular user category, intermediates, show more daily and weekly activity, likely because they are cycling or walking to work every day, or using the app to chart their daily physical activity. These are users who generally like to frequently do some physical activity. The smaller number of advanced users (nine per cent) are people who like to keep fit, but enjoy it as well e.g., the weekly people who cycle who go on 100 mile rides on Sunday mornings.
Taking a closer look at the data to evaluate behaviour, some patterns between the app usage and the users emerge. The age range of users matches the ability categories, with over 50s usually keen and experienced in walking and cycling. And 37-49 year olds keeping fit regularly with young families, and looking to do more family activities. Android data shows on average 147 daily actions while, Apple’s average usage is 1-2 times per day throughout the year. We understand that the number of active devices is half of the active users, which probably means those people are really enjoying the app and using it on more than one device.
The free walking app Explore BwD shows a similar increase to activity for our borough. Since launch just six months ago, over 350 users have added walking activity. And the positive picture continues according to Strava data.
App users in BwD on the popular app during the last year showed a nine per cent increase in the number cycling journeys for those aged 20-34. Worryingly, data showed a drop (11 per cent) in people aged 35-54, but overall, Strava users in BwD showed a 54 per cent increase for 2020. Run, Walk and Hiking show similar trends, with an overall increase of 124 per cent compared to 2019.
The Council supports the Let’s Do It for Lancashire public health campaign, through promotion of activity using apps and through projects including Blackburn Stride and Ride, which is focussed on enabling more everyday walking and cycling in our towns, through infrastructure and support. Witton Park Cycle Centre and Corporation Park both offer training and advice to get on your bike, and Take A Hike is just one of many organised group walks that you can get involved with.